What is Equitable Development?

Equitable development refers to an approach to real estate development that provides benefits to the community, responds to local needs, and contributes to the health and wellbeing of residents and workers.

Why focus on equitable development?

Real estate development has an immense impact on the affordability, accessibility, and economic opportunity of neighborhoods. Equitable development projects can provide affordable housing, create good jobs, increase access to services, and ensure that communities have a voice in shaping the future of their neighborhoods. Focusing on equitable development can improve the long-term outcomes of neighborhoods and members of disadvantaged groups.

ISLG’s goal is to identify, measure, and incentivize best practices in real estate development that can have a positive impact on the social and economic wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Phase 1: Guidelines for real estate development

In the first phase of this work, we have published the Equitable Development Guidelines. This tool outlines a comprehensive set of standards for real estate developers that identifies and explains the development decisions, activities, and strategies they can follow to build equitable development projects. The guidelines build and expand on existing initiatives, including Enterprise Green Communities, PolicyLink’s All-In Cities Initiative, and the JUST program. They are geared specifically towards developers and address all aspects of equitable development projects.

Download the guidelines

Phase 2: Project metrics

In the second phase of this work, we will develop metrics that assess the extent to which development projects incorporate the best practices outlined in the Equitable Development Guidelines. This phase will also include pilot testing of the metrics to ensure that they are meaningful and feasible to measure. We will partner with developers and conduct outreach to other development stakeholders to better understand how well the metrics capture the many aspects of equitable development. A planning studio at the Hunter Department of Urban Policy and Planning is currently working on this phase of the project.

Phase 3: Certification program for equitable development

In the third phase of this work, we will work with a committee of experts to develop a certification program based on the guidelines and project metrics from the first two phases. The committee will include experts in a wide range of fields, including development, finance, community engagement, design, urban planning, and public policy. We will create a scoring system that evaluates project metrics, assigns overall project scores, and determines thresholds for project certification. The result will be an Equitable Development Certification program that can be used by developers, investors, and government agencies.

For more information, contact Jocelyn Drummond at Jocelyn.drummond@islg.cuny.edu.